India: Links for 16th September, 2019

  1. India’s fourth party system.
    Here’s the context:
    “There is broad consensus that India’s electoral history—from the inaugural postindependence general election in 1952 until the sixteenth Lok Sabha elections in 2014—can be roughly divided into three electoral orders. Yogendra Yadav, one of India’s leading political scientists, was among the first to provide this organizational rubric. Yadav has also argued that a new electoral system commences whenever an observer can “detect a destabilisation of [an old system] and its replacement by a new pattern of electoral outcomes as well as its determinants.””
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  2. “Between ‘comb’, ‘kanghi’ and ‘kakahi’; ‘plate’, ‘thaali’ and ‘tharia,’ and ‘here’, ‘yehaan’ and ‘hene’ my mother introduced us to the grammar and syntax of all three languages in everyday conversation. I think her own regret of not knowing English drove her to this inventiveness.”
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    On the delights of knowing multiple, interrelated languages.
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  3. On the history of the rupee.
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  4. Indian airport police have been asked to smile less.
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  5. Have you heard of Israil Ansari? I hadn’t. Would you pay 400 rupees to meet him?
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India: Links for 9th September, 2019

  1. Mild disagreement with the conclusions of this piece, but that notwithstanding, a useful piece to read. This is on the slowdown in the Indian economy
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  2. “Those who access public services can be roughly divided into three segments—those who can pay to get, those who vote to get, and then there is the middle class.”
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    Shankkar Aiyar is a fine, fine writer. Here’s further proof.
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  3. “There is no real right time for disinvestment—only the right reason. Yes, mergers are good, but what about erosion of value—the market value of HDFC Bank is more than all PSBs put together.”
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    And even further proof
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  4. Niranjan Rajadhakshya on the linkages between GST reform, DTC reform, and how they feed into and out of each other.
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  5. On Bouncing Boards.

India: Links for 2nd September, 2019

  1. Heard of Kangiten?
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  2. Or of Vinayaki?
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  3. “A prominent name for Ganesha in the Tamil language is Pillai (Tamil: பிள்ளை) or Pillaiyar (பிள்ளையார்) A.K. Narain differentiates these terms by saying that pillai means a “child” while pillaiyar means a “noble child”. He adds that the words pallu, pella, and pell in the Dravidian family of languages signify “tooth or tusk”, also “elephant tooth or tusk”. Anita Raina Thapan notes that the root word pille in the name Pillaiyar might have originally meant “the young of the elephant”, because the Pali word pillaka means “a young elephant”.In the Burmese language, Ganesha is known as Maha Peinne (မဟာပိန္နဲ, pronounced [məhà pèiɴné]), derived from Pali Mahā Wināyaka (မဟာဝိနာယက). The widespread name of Ganesha in Thailand is Phra Phikanet.[34] The earliest images and mention of Ganesha names as a major deity in present-day Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam date from the 7th- and 8th-centuries, and these mirror Indian examples of the 5th century or earlier. In Sri Lankan Singhala Buddhist areas, he is known as Gana deviyo, and revered along with Buddha, Vishnu, Skanda and others.”
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    A rose by any other name
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  4. The endless source of delight that is Marginal Revolution.
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  5. A how to for Ganesh Chaturthi in Pune/Mumbai

 

I am, readers should note, cheerfully atheist. But as a Puneri, the charms of this festival are hard to ignore. Now, if only we could figure out a way to remove the loudspeakers…

India: Links for 26th August, 2019

Five more articles about Kashmir today.

  1. Shekhar Gupta on India’s first mover advantage.
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  2. “Again, a counter-question: Who are the Kashmiris? The Right-Nationalists are missing nuance when they say just 10 districts of the Valley can’t speak for all of the state. Because these represent the state’s majority. The liberal argument is more flawed. If the majority view of Valley Muslims then subsumes the sizeable minorities of the state, what do we do for the view of the rest, about 99.5 per cent of India? Can you have the democratic logic of majority work in one place and not in the other?”
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    No better paragraph, to my mind, than this to help you understand what democracy is, and what it’s limitations (by design) are.
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  3. On cutting the Kashmiri knot.
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  4. “So the idle thought is this: If religions and constitutions are both the product of the human brains devised in order to bring order to peoples’ lives and societies, why do some people prefer one over the other? As demand theory would say, they should be on an indifference curve.”
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    Speaking of wonderfully written paragraphs
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  5. In search of peace(?)

India: Links for 19th August, 2019

CCS is organizing a conference around the theme “Legal Foundations of a Free Society”, and it is being hosted by the Gokhale Institute. One of the speakers is Shruti Rajagopalan, whose writing I have long admired. Here are five pieces by Shruti that I thoroughly enjoyed reading:

  1. The implementation of laws matters as much as their framing (as any parent will tell you!)
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  2. “Deshmukh, a former RBI governor who had argued against bank nationalization immediately after independence, was also contesting the election, this time supported by the Swatantra Party and Jan Sangh. Giri won with Gandhi’s support, and his legacy is often regarded as that of a rubber-stamp loyalist who damaged the independence of the President’s office.”
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    A little bit of trivia that I was completely unaware of, and makes me think of many counterfactuals – but the article is about how the nationalization of banks came to be.
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  3. Shruti explains (rather acerbically and entirely appropriately so) why the budget is a spectacle we’d all do well to ignore completely.
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  4. “First, we need to create more positions for judges, especially in the lower levels of the judiciary, as caseloads have exploded over the years. India has only 12-15 judges per million people compared to the US’s 110 per million. The immediate goal is to reach the Law Commission’s 50-judges-per-million recommendation. A good start is to double the number of judges across the board in the lower judiciary.”
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    On some much needed reforms to the Indian judiciary.
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  5. A paper by her on a favorite theme (and bugbear) of mine: the complete lack of true decentralization in India.

 

India: Links for 13th August, 2019

Five links about India from the past couple of weeks:

  1. Nitin Pai explains why the banana thingie was a mere storm in a teacup.
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  2. A rather uninspiring review of the GST impementation, by reading the CAG review of the… well, GST implementation.
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  3. Vivek Kaul in the Livemint analyzes credit growth in the economy, and asks who exactly is borrowing. To me, this article raises more questions than answers.
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  4. “At the Centre, the privatisation of state enterprises during the Vajpayee era is an aberration which validates the norm. The government is the largest business house and owns 339 enterprises in 2019. Leave alone the disinvestment of Air India or 23 other enterprises. In 2018, the ownership of private carrier Jet Airways is parked on the balance sheet of public sector banks. The debate is not just about government ownership but about political management. ”
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    To me, a deeply depressing issue is the fact that no government in India, bar none, has taken divestment seriously, with the notable exception of the Vajpayee government. It’s been more of the same before, and more of the same after. Deep sigh.
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  5. Is democracy an end in and of itself, or is it the means to an end?

India: Links for 5th August, 2019

In line with Pooja’s request from the previous week, five articles that help us understand Kashmir better: the background since 1947, the reasons for the never ending crisis, and the view from the other side of the border.

Kashmir remains (and will continue to be) a hugely contentious issue. The idea, for me, is to read as much as possible about it to learn more about why it is such a geopolitical mess. I’ll reiterate once again – any articles you can share with me about this are more than welcome.

  1. A very long, very detailed timeline of the the Kashmir conflict.
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  2. National Geographic’s view on how the conflict started.
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  3. The Hindustan Times on how the conflict started, in terms of one rather important meeting.
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  4. Rahul Pandita interviewed in Forbes on Kashmir, the exodus of 1989, and his experiences growing up as a Kashmiri Pandit – and more besides. Also an excerpt from a book Rahul Pandita has written about 1989 Kashmir
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  5. What is the view from the other side of the border? I learnt a lot from reading this piece, and I would strongly urge you to read it.

 

Again, any links you may have about this topic are more than welcome.